Max Du Preez’s strident attack upon South African Muslims and the grossly unsubstantiated allegations of Muslim complicity in the Mombasa bombings, is a typical example of Islamophobia and a classic form of highly exaggerated stereotyping. (The Star, December 5 2002, p18)
Not only is it ridiculous and presumptuous to indulge in such emotional diatribe which questions the integrity of the Muslim population and their loyalty to South Africa; it also displays belligerent hostility, which is completely unwarranted.
To assume that if Kenyan Muslims had informed the authorities of “terrorists” hiding among the local Muslim population, the Mombasa attack could have been prevented, reflects a superficial understanding of the possible reasons behind the atrocity, by the possible “masterminds” who may be prosecuting the “War on terror” from the hallowed offices of the White House and the Knesset.
Is it not likely that a Bush Doctrine exists, similar to the Reagan Doctrine of the 80’s, which involved the United States in covert operations, proxy wars, counterinsurgencies, and instability operations around the world?
From 1981, the Reagan Doctrine shaped US policy in every region of the globe. According to a former United Nations official, Sean Gervasi and Sybil Wong, of the Berkshire Forum, it was within the framework of the Reagan Doctrine that a new policy towards Southern Africa was formulated. Regrettably, scholars and journalists paid insufficient attention to the devastating impact of the Doctrine on the lives of the disenfranchised masses in Southern Africa.
Gervasi and Wong have documented US atrocities in our region and recorded that in the 80’s South Africa and the United States jointly waged a terrible but almost invisible war against the innocent peoples of Southern Africa. “The war, it will be remembered, engulfed much of the subcontinent and was of almost unprecedented barbarity.”
Any objective study of that period will concur with Gervasi and Wong that direct US collusion with the apartheid regime, left terrible scars; a million and a half or more dead, millions displaced from their homes, whole economies in ruins, and millions facing starvation and disease.
The killing of Africans for a foreign struggle has indeed been a favourite past-time for successive US administrations – all in the name of “national interest”. So while Du Preez correctly bemoans the loss of lives in Mombasa, he errs by blindly accepting the version of faceless intelligence sources, American to boot, which warn that Africa will be the next theatre, for “this kind of terrorism from al-Qaeda, or groups like them.”
Just as it was wrong for journalists, academics and others to credit the propagandists of the two Reagan administrations, which ensured that not much was known of the tragic drama in Southern Africa, so too would it be foolish and criminal to credit the Bush propagandists.
Unless we engage in serious public discussion on the US led ‘War on Terror” today, and insist on comprehensive probes, investigations and motives, journalists of the calibre of Du Preez will be barking up the wrong tree.
Conventional wisdom demands that we refuse to accept blatant lies and deception emanating from the same sources in the Pentagon which carefully veiled US actions in Southern Africa in collusion with the former rulers to weaken the struggle against apartheid.
Unfortunately Du Preez is guilty of the same neglect, but worse than this, his article fuels paranoia of “Muslim fundamentalism” in much the same way that the Americans demeaned communism and exploited the fear of “Soviet military power”, two decades ago.
Has Du Preez paused to consider what Muslims in Kenya would gain from killing fellow Africans? Indeed, since he anticipates “terrorists” planning evil deeds on “our soil”, it may be appropriate to challenge him to forecast the possible recriminations South African Muslims may face.
One direct consequence of this future threat is the impending new draconian legislation styled as “Anti-Terrorism Bill”, which is expected to be fast-tracked in the new year and contains many dreadful repressive measures, reminiscent of apartheid-era “security measures”.
Worldwide Islamophobic tendencies coupled with the fear of “Muslim fundamentalism”, which South Africa has an abundance of, according to Du Preez, has succeeded in pressurising many liberal democracies to introduce draconian measures severely curtailing cherished freedoms.
To add insult to injury, American media reported, a few days ago, without any moral compunction to provide evidence, that South Africa was providing a safe haven” for the US Bogeyman, Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.
And if Du Preez is still inclined to stretch his imagination, perhaps he would indulge in parading the current fiction which alleges that al-Qaeda were laundering money through SA, smuggling gold, diamonds and cash through ports, including Durban, as fact.
(Mr. Iqbal Jasarat is Chairman of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)